Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Sale

This is going to be a quick post.  My weekend has been just like my week, BUSY!  I wanted to let you all know that I am having a sale in honor of one of my favorite holidays, Halloween.

I am working a new pack dealing with space right now.  I am going to admit that being out of the classroom, I am struggling with things to make.  Any ideas????  If there is something you would like to see, let me know :)

I will leave you with a pic of my adorable girls enjoying fall.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


What.A.Week!!!!!!!  When I saw what I had to do last week, I thought it was the busiest week of my year so far, boy was I wrong!!  This week surpassed that by Wednesday.

Monday began with me walking in the door at 7:30 and having my principal call me in her office (before even  putting my stuff down!) We had a nice chat about some curriculum stuff I honestly don't remember!  Then the rest of my day was spent putting out teacher fires dealing with curriculum, report cards and benchmarks.  Tuesday I already knew was a wash because the Title One department had set up for all Instructional Facilitators to attend an Eric Jensen  brain based teaching workshop.  It was great and I learned a lot of new ideas to engage all learners.  A plus was the beautiful drive to Asheville with my IF bestie, Danielle.  The downside was that I was off campus all day.  Being gone all day means no work is getting done!!!!  

Moving onto Wednesday (yes we are only at the half way point, are you exhausted yet????)  I had a data guru meeting which made my head spin!  The presenters move at warp speed and talk all this AMO, EVAAS, EOG, K2 Report Card blah blah blah.  I have to analyze data and prepare spreadsheets all while trying to keep up with everything that was being said.  After that I had a well deserved lunch with my IF Bestie at a local sandwich shop Spindle City Cafe.

How stinkin' cute is that decor!

After lunch I rushed back to school to get ready for my K2 Report Card training.  I'm not going to lie, it was rough!  I presented a district created presentation and was met with harsh words from most teachers.  I know that it wasn't directed at me because they are all overwhelmed with Common Core, but it was still a little difficult.  After that training I went back to my room and worked until 6pm.  It was nice because most teachers were gone so I was able to actually focus on my work.

Today I went to a Teacher Advisory Council meeting for our district.  Normally our SIT chair goes, but she was on a field trip (lucky duck!) so I filled in.  Let me tell you about the super fun agenda: Common Core, Pay for Performance and our school calendar.  Nothing like getting a roomful of teachers in an uproar about CCSS and then topping it with Pay for Performance!!!!  I was very surprised how well the meeting went.  Things were discussed, but in a super professional manner.

 After leaving that meeting, I rushed back to school to train up my new Kinder teacher in MCLASS/Dibels.  It was great working with her!  I love the newbie energy.  She is so eager about everything and it excites me that she is so willing to try anything and a BIG bonus is she doesn't complain about a single thing!!!!

After that I had a Smart 11 training which was great, but it made for one long day.   

After arriving home, I sat down for about an hour and had to go out to church to practice for our family experience that is coming up in Nov.

Needless to say I am more than ready for the weekend!!  One day left this week and I am happy to say, I have NO meetings tomorrow!!!  

Bring on Friday!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I've Been Boo'd!!!!!!

It's happened!!!  I've been Boo'd! I've played this game hundreds of times in school, but this is a first in the blog world.  I LOVE Halloween and can't wait to dress my girls up in their ladybug costumes!


Maybe you've seen or heard of this fun "game" in neighborhoods or even at your school... but let's try a blog version!  Here is how it works:
If you've been booed, copy and paste the above pic and these "rules" into your post.
1.  Give a shout out to the blogger who booed you and link back to their site!
2. Share 3-5 October activities, books, products (yours or someone else),
or freebie(s) that you love!
3.  Share the Boo love with 5 bloggers- make sure you check this link to make sure you don't boo someone again:
And don't forget to tell them that they have been BOOED!
4.  Link up {here} so that others can find you and read about your October ideas!  And while you are there... check out the other great blogs!

Thanks to Nina for sharing the Boo love with me!
Lovely Little Learners
If you don't follow her, check it out!  She's got lots of great ideas!

I love Halloween so I always try to squeeze some fun stuff in during the month of October that deals with halloween.  I love using Hope King's Pumpkin Book Reports.  My kids had a ball with these last year.  

Being in a new position this year, I have been introduced to a new favorite

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin (with CD)
It has great tie ins for shapes as well as Halloween.

Another of my new of mine is Ginger's

It is so stinkin' cute!!!!! 

So here are some awesome bloggers that you should follow as well!

Lacie at
Polkadots and Pencils
Juli and Heather
Ashley, Autumn and Tammy

Fanatical in First Grade

Can't believe we are already close to Halloween!  Where has the time gone!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I've Got Character....Traits!

We are half way through October and it has already been the busiest month yet!  I have.not.stopped.  Here is what has happened in the past week...

Last Thursday was one of my best days yet in my new position.  I spent my day doing what I love, planning out curriculum!  That is one great thing about my new job.  I get to spend time at work planning!  Thursday I went to another school in my district and helped them plan Reading Workshop for their 3rd graders.  It was great sitting down with other teachers and talking curriculum!  (Only a teacher would find that enjoyable!)  We worked on getting their unit on book series up and running.  My tip to any teachers that are planning on using Calkins book series units, make sure you have several copies of multiple books in a series.  So suggestions for 3rd grade would be

Over the years I have learned that in order for children to become better readers, they need to practice reading.  This year with the Common Core standards, I am ecstatic that all students are allowed and expected to read independently for longer stretches of time.  I love using the Reading workshop to teach reading skills and Calkins character unit is superb!  When  I taught this unit in 3rd grade, we used the book Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo as my mentor text throughout this whole unit.  I made a poster with Opal in the middle and came up with all kinds of traits to describe her.  We kept this poster up all unit.  Several times throughout the unit we would add new traits that came up as the book progressed.  This was great because I was able to have discussions with my students about how characters change.

 Here are a few anchor charts from this unit (ignore my shoes! I had to stand on a chair to get the pic!)

 We also included discussions on Flat and Round characters.  I created these posters of them that we used on an anchor chart.  These really helped my students begin to see how a character is important to the story and that minor characters support the main character.  Pick up yours here for free!

The second grade teachers at my school have been working on the Writing Workshop unit about Authors as Mentors and used Kevin Henkes as their mentor author.  To tie this into their character study, they used Lilly from Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse.

They used Lilly as their character map.  After really studying about how Lilly acted, they had their students draw pictures of themselves and add words around them that describe them.  I love looking at these as I go down the hall!

Well I'm off to do a model Kinder lesson on pumpkins!  Wish me luck!  For all your Kinder people out there, this is new territory for me....check back later to see how it went!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Got Skills Linky Party

I'm joining up with my bloggy bff Amber at Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher for her Reading skills linky.

I love teaching reading and began teaching shared reading based on skills without a basal reader last year.  The skill I want to share with you today is summarizing.  This is always a difficult skill to teach my 3rd graders.  I was introduced to using foldables in my classroom several years ago and it has become much easier.  I like to use George and Martha to teach this skill.  If you haven't read this book, you are missing out!

It includes 4-5 short stories in one book which allows for me to use the same book all week.  The first day I read aloud the first story and model for the kids how I summarize.  Here are a few examples of organizers I have used in my classroom


After modeling how to write down something in each of the categories, I model how to take that information and write a brief 1-2 sentences about the story.  The next few days are spent practicing this skill using the other George and Martha stories with their reading partner.  My students use foldables during this practice. 

These are great because they can be used with any genre!  When working on summarizing, I try to focus on it during my minilesson for Reading Workshop, Shared Reading and in Guided Reading.  
Hope that these helpful hints make teaching this skill easier!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Getting Guided Reading Going

Jenn over at Teacher's Cauldron, had a great idea to have a linky all about guided reading.  I am getting ready to do a training at my school about this very topic, so I know that I will be hitting up these blogs soon! I am a little late the linky party, but wanted to join in anyway.

I have always done DRA's on my students to get their reading level, but now that we are a Dibels school, I use that data to make my groups. I try to have between 4-5 groups with 5-6 students in each one.  A few years ago my school went through NC Reads training which focuses on the 5 domains of reading.  This totally changed how I wrote my guided reading lessons.  I realized after this training that some of my struggling students still needed support with phonics and phonemic awareness.  By adding these to my lessons, students were able to grow even more than I expected.

After establishing groups, I begin to create my guided reading lessons. I use the form below to plan out my lessons.  Click here to get your free copy!

 My lowest readers start with phonemic awareness by sounding out phonemes within various words I have chosen for them.  These are usually from the Dolch sight word list. Next each reader is given a board.  I have these SWEET boards from Kagan.  My kids write on the front side with a magnetic pen and then can wipe it clean by dragging the pen across the back.  We only use these at guided reading so the kids think they are pretty special!  

For phonics I usually try to teach or review a skill that each group needs.  One example might be CVC/CVCe words.  I have my students write the different categories across the top and I show them word cards that include words from those categories and they write them where they think they belong.  We then read these words to help build up fluency.

For comprehension during guided reading, I try to use the same skill that is being taught in shared reading.  I have found that this method ensures that my students have many opportunities to interact and master that specific skill.  I love to use a variety of foldables during shared reading.  By using the same skill in guided reading, my students can use their foldables and I don't have to recreate organizers :)

Another thing I use to build up retell during guided reading is the Fiction/Nonfiction Walk.  This takes kids through each part of the story.  I also give my students book mark versions of each of these walks to use during independent reading.

These are some of the reading tools that I give my students to use during independent reading and guided reading.  

Each student has a reading tool kit to keep all their tools in!

To keep each group's guided reading passages, plans, and materials organized I found that having a plastic 3 drawer tower was ideal.  I can put each group in a different drawer and I have a basket on top for the 4th group.

I try to meet with each group twice a week and also conference with each student weekly during independent reading.  I love guided reading and hope this post helps those who might be looking for a new way to do guided reading!


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